In a post-Christian, post-modern, post-everything society, God’s people are called to operate from courage, not fear. And when we live courageously, putting our hope in the reality of who God is and what God has already accomplished, it changes everything. We’re freed up to be the people of God living out the mission of God despite what new challenges come our way.
But given our increasingly hostile cultural landscape, what does making new disciples, in terms of evangelism, look like? And how do we go about it? I think you’ll be surprised by where we end up, though you probably shouldn’t be.
Evangelism in an Age of Unbelief
The idea of hospitality has been hijacked by popular culture. When the Bible speaks of hospitality, it almost always ties it to aliens and strangers — people who are not like us. Hospitality means welcoming those outside your normal circle of friends — the kind of people it takes a new heart to invite in. It’s opening our lives, and our homes, to those who believe differently than we do.
Hospitality is all over the Bible. In fact, it’s so important to God that when Paul lists out the traits necessary for a man to be qualified for the office of elder in a local congregation, we find that he must be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach . . .” (1 Timothy 3:2). To be an elder, a man has to be able to open his life and show kindness to those who believe differently than he does. He has to open up his world to those who are outside of what he believes.
Now, why would God be so serious about hospitality? Well, because he has been so hospitable to us. Even when we were living as his enemies, he came and saved us. He opened the door and invited us into his presence. We demonstrate that we truly appreciate the divine hospitality we have received as we extend our own hospitality to those around us.
I’m not suggesting that biblical hospitality is the silver bullet for making evangelism work in the twenty-first century (news flash: there’s no silver bullet). But might it not be — in our cynical, polarizing, critical, dumpster-fire culture — that a warm dose of welcoming hospitality will take some folks by surprise and open up the door for opportunities to make disciples of Jesus Christ?
Four Ways to Show Hospitality
1. Welcome Everyone You Meet
2. Engage People
We may think this is all obvious — but often we hold back from doing it. We need to get to know people, take an interest in them, and listen to them, rather than just trying to think about how we can say something memorable or hilarious.
3. Make Dinner a Priority
4. Love the Outsider
It All Starts with Courage
And in a truly spectacular paradox, there’s a yawning chasm between God’s story and our stories. While we know there are spiritually significant realities at work, we are called to simple, everyday faithfulness that works itself out in lives marked by hospitality.
In some ways, it’s the big, flashy acts — the kind of stuff we photograph, slap a filter on, and show all our “friends” online — that go most noticed yet require the least of us. True Christian courage probably looks more like inviting a group of strangers into your home for dinner than the attractive, successful ideas we have dreamed up in our minds.
Taking a risk to be genuinely hospitable actually requires courage because it forces us to rely on our Lord and his strength, not our own. When we open up our homes and build friendships with those who don’t look like us, believe like us, or act like us, we open up our lives and make ourselves vulnerable. We risk getting hurt and making enemies with those who don’t think the way we think or act the way we act. Yet we can do it because of the hope, strength, and courage that we have in the Lord.
So, greet the people you see today. Learn to ask good questions. Open up your home to them, especially if they’re lonely or isolated. And above all, trust in God to use your weak hospitality to show his power.
Source: Desiring God | Matt Chandler